Some fascinating comments have emerged this morning from New York Red Bulls rookie head coach Mike Petke.
It goes back to the old theory about how foreign managers will always struggle to get in synch with the American athlete mentality, with the presiding sense of fight and optimism that’s part of the American soccer players’ DNA, among other elements that coaches from abroad may not get.
To wit, Petke has some colorful thoughts on why the fabulously talented Red Bulls could not get past D.C. United in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinal series (essentially the league quarterfinals.) He said it wasn’t this or that, not a flubbed penalty kick or Rafa Marquez’s ridiculous red card.
To blame any specific instance in that game has no merit for me. It was the mentality that was instilled, and it was the lack of faith and belief, to be honest with you, in what we were doing from many – if not all – of the players. Somewhere along the line they lost it, and that’s one of the biggest things.’’
From the piece by Brian Lewis in today’s New York Post, we also learn that Petke took particular umbrage in the decision to postpone the second leg that telling series against United due to snowy conditions. Long story short, United players and coaches were stomping mad about the decision, while Red Bulls coach Hans Backe favored postponement.
It bothered the hell out of me. From a psychological standpoint, D.C. was ahead of us going into that game for sure. I was out in the field that first night shoveling snow. I was out there myself with a shovel in my hand, because I wanted to play and because I wanted to make sure I’m giving my players the best chance to win if we were going to play. I think, yes, they had won the psychological edge going into that game for sure.
“… [United was] raring to go and play; and we had some people in our organization saying we shouldn’t have played. That says something right there. Rain, sleet, shine, snow, even if you’re not ready to play, you’d better portray that you’re ready, because that’s half the battle right there.’’